I’m well aware that nobody reads this blog, and so its not the best venue for raising awareness of demonstrations and other activism. Nevertheless, I feel I owe it to a young Danish-Kurdish activist called Suzan Star Jabary (pictured!) to mention her demonstration against the proposed Ja’afari Personal Status law in Iraq, which will tend to reproduce all the inequities of the Iranian system.
The draft law will reduce the marriage age to eight years and eight months, institute legal polygamy, reduce women’s grounds for divorce and deny custody to mothers. HRW has condemned it. Iraqi women are protesting it. And for good reasons: Nadia Mahmood spells out some of the problems in the attached audiocast (below).
Kecia Ali identifies a core problem through all schools of Islamic law based on a close scrutiny of the core texts: the status of wife and the status of slave are constantly presented in parallel – statuses are applied and extrapolated from one position of dependence to another. There are reasons then, to have concerns about legal systems which stake their distinctiveness in continuity with this paradigm. Certainly, clients of IKWRO have expressed fury at shoddy and discriminatory treatments in shari’a courts, of the type exposed in the C4 documentary Divorce: Sharia Style. Read more
I’ve been reading about shari’a for a few years now. It’s a complicated subject and to be honest I don’t have enough patience to get to the bottom of it. I think Kecia Ali’s Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam is an excellent book however, and deserves to be far better known. Sexual Ethics and Islam is also really good.
Here, Ali discusses how for Islamic jurists of the 9th century, legal decisions relating to marriage were often derived analogically from the position of slavery.